So this week is the first time one of those digital download codes turned up in a Marvel comic I follow (Incredible Hulk, in case you were wondering), which got me to wondering about something.
The Marvels that have a digital download code printed inside protect the code from being stolen in-store by hooligans and ne’er-do-wells by covering it with a black label, which looks a little something…like this:
Of course, it’s not as if someone couldn’t just peel it off and jot down the code anyway, but as I haven’t yet experienced a floor littered with these little black labels, I think that hasn’t become a real problem yet.
One thing I’ve been thinking about, from the “dude what sells the old comics in a collectors’ market” point of view, is this: remember Marvel Value Stamps? Those little stamp drawings that appeared on editorial pages/letter pages/etc. in ’70s Marvels that you would clip and save for…well, something or another, I guess. Anyway, for folks like me who, as I said, deal in back issue sales, those things are the bane of my existence, as you really need to go through and check that the particular comics that had said Value Stamps in them weren’t clipped out. Because, if that stamp is clipped, suddenly that Wolverine appearance in Incredible Hulk #181, normally worth exactly one billion dollars, is now only worth about five or ten cents, max. (NOTE: pricing approximate.) So, yes, a missing stamp does negatively affect the value of the comic.
So now there’s this thing, the little black sticker covering the code. I suppose technically if the sticker is missing, the comic would be incomplete (or at least, altered from its original condition as released) and therefore probably shouldn’t be sold as a mint or near mint copy. Which means, if I start dealing in used copies of these (and I really haven’t, as of yet), I’m going to have to start checking to make sure that sticker is still intact. (I should note that I haven’t experimented with the sticker in my Hulk comic yet, so I don’t know if the sticker can be reattached…I’m guessing “no.”)
Before you say anything…yes, this is a dumb thing to be thinking about. But I guarantee you, this situation is going to come up and I’m going to have to deal with it at some point. …Not that I’m looking forward to that buyer/seller interaction:
“Well, this copy of Avengers Vs. X-Men II: The X-Avengening #3 would normally be worth about ten bucks….”
“…Except the digital code sticker has been removed. Sorry, this is only about a four dollar book now.”
“Yeah, really. …This isn’t my proudest moment.”
Or maybe I can go the “professional grading” route, where some of those companies squirm out of pinning a book down to a specific condition by giving it a “qualified” grade based on its apparent appearance, instead of the grade that actually should be applied based on the damage you don’t immediately see. (You know, “Qualified Near Mint, loose centerfold” — that’s probably a “VG” to you and me.) …Of course, if I ever actually write “Qualified Near Mint, missing digital code sticker” on a book I’m trying to sell at the shop, I do welcome any of you to come put me out of my misery.
(By the way, I’m totally pulling that sticker off my Incredible Hulk comic…I want to see what all this digital comic hoohar is about.)